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The Inside Scoop from Tournament Veterans

Last year saw the fifth World Cup in Alicante with over 2,300 coaches attending in record numbers, Scottish Tournament attendance at an all time high, over 55,000 games of Bloodbowl at NAF tournaments last year across the globe and c. 6,700 coaches playing in a tournament at some point somewhere in 2023.


What better time to look at tournaments with the Welsh National last month and the upcoming Waterbowl that’s been on the calendar for 20 years. Who better to share their insights on the tournament scene than our illustrious panel of coaches and McNaughton!


Credit: Stewbacca, Alicante World Cup, winners lifting the trophy!


First up Volkajo, a coach who clocked up a record 176 matches in a single season last year and the kind of coach you’d expect to find in the souks of Marrakech if they were to be found running a Bloodbowl tournament. He’ll be at Mulligan’s next month, widely travelled, a tournament organiser in Berlin and one of the friendliest faces on the tournament scene.


Next up we have the indomitable England Captain KFoged who’s recently announced the England Eurobowl squad. A world class coach who’s always got a smile and a chuckle to share with coaches from wherever they hail. He’s our most widely travelled coach on the panel playing in seventeen countries including the US and Canada as well as a whole host of European destinations.


Celt, the artist formerly known as Hawca, an experienced coach who’s amassed over 500 games from his first home of Wales where he’s had multiple Welsh Caps in Eurobowls over the years has now moved back up the road to Oban and is keen to find tournaments closer to his new home.


… and finally our very own McNaughton, gaining his second cap in Athens and keen traveller to the Iberian peninsula he’s a willing ambassador for the Scottish Bloodbowl community as he takes his quick smile on the road and is a regular feature at the top tournaments in the UK pulling in a creditable 6th place at the recent Welsh National. So without further ado let’s dive into their thoughts on tournaments…


What was your first tournament and what do you remember about that experience?


Volkajo; A small local tournament in someone's garden, it was actually the best way to start.  Another coach had gathered a group of three rookies (we all still play!) on Facebook and convinced us to go. I was rather nervous because I had mainly played on the PS4 beforehand. I even emailed the Anything But A One podcast some questions about tournament etiquette (thanks for answering two years later, guys!) because I did not know what to expect. Everybody was super welcoming. I lost most games but really enjoyed the Tabletop (TT) experience and I’ve been hooked ever since!


KFoged; My first NAF tournament (I have played a few Danish non-NAF before this) was actually the very first NAF World Cup in Nottingham back in 2007. It was quite an eye opener for what playing Bloodbowl could be about and how big the community was outside Denmark.

 

The year after PeteW (former Team England Captain) invited me (and other coaches from the White Isle League on FUMBBL) to stay with him whilst we played in the The Blood Bowl (hosted by Games Workshop at Warhammer World, which changed its name to BB Grand Tournament in 2010 and is now known as the NAF Championship held annually in Nottingham).


For a few years I only played that one, but in 2010 I added a couple more tournaments and by 2011 I had truly gotten the tournament bug and played 13 tournaments with 8 of those being in England and Scotland. I have not really looked back since, but safe to say I would never have ended as captain of Team England without those first tournaments.


McNaughton; The Welsh Open in 2018. I remember turning up to the venue and hearing this big booming voice shout MCNAUGHTON!!!! It was the one and only El_Duderino one of the nicest and most amazing people you will ever meet. I remember being quite nervous as I had never been to a table top event of any sorts before but Andy (Celt) was the organiser and gave me a huge warm welcome and introduced me to all the players. I met a lot of people who have gone on to be good friends such as Celt, Duderino, Raging82, Lycos and Davo to name but a few along with having some very tough and fun games which definitely gave me the blood bowl bug as I am still here today playing.


Are star players game-breaking in NAF tournaments and how do you like to see stars used in the tournament scene?


McNaughton; When teams are only being picked so they can take certain stars I believe that yes they are game-breaking. In my view it takes almost zero skill to play snotlings with Morg and Hakflem. It either works or it doesn't, and that's the same for your opponent, They sit there and hope for a double skulls and failed loner to happen early enough. I would prefer there was a “stars event” such as sevens or dungeon bowl where you can run a specific tournament and allow all stars and have a face off.


Celt; This is an interesting question, game breaking? Not completely, but for example playing say dwarves with a MA7 Spring AG4ST4 or Chaos dwarfs with a MA9 gutter runner like Hakflem or the re-released and very affordable Skitter Stab-Stab does change the meta big time.


Flings are the same, yet banning stars would leave Flings without three trees.  It means changing what you do to account for the stars,  that said it permits the ‘dice roller’ or ‘high roller’ to pick up wins they are not really in.


Do I like them? They have a place, but probably more in Leagues than tournaments.


KFoged; Game-breaking is a big word, but I think some of the stars are truly problematic and even more combined with a few particular races. Currently I would prefer us not to use stars at tournaments and we have been there before as stars have not always been as common as now in tournaments.


Volkajo; In my opinion stars should be part of the game, also in tournaments, but not the way GW designed them. Stars can and should be a randomizer, but not break the game. The ideal way they should be balanced is “a team with a star should not be as good as a T1 team but give them a chance.” They are a fun component, but the official rules make them  too strong and especially underpriced. 


What is your most favourite tournament memory?


Celt; My first World Cup, Lucca, Italy.  It was a team event like no other with such an incredible atmosphere,  six mates, one villa and a real close knit camaraderie. Of course very little to do with the Bloodbowl, but it was the excuse to get everyone together. I’d highly recommend every coach does at least one World Cup in their time within the community.


KFoged; It really doesn't feel fair to pick just one when you have played over 100 tournaments in 17 different countries! So I will pick a few for different reasons and not in any particular order:

  • Spike! Magazine (2012/2013) in Vancouver, Canada. I just love Vancouver as a city and it is an amazing visit on its own, but then you add the local coaches which are some of the finest people I have been so lucky to meet on my travels.

  • Lutece Bowl (2016/2018) in La Bréchoise, France. If you want to enjoy the outdoors (tournament is played in an open barn), very friendly beer prices and high quality blood bowl in every round then this is where you want to go.

  • Fulginium Bowl (2023) in Umbria, Italy. If you want an next level food experience in a lovely atmosphere playing Blood Bowl with some great Italian and Maltesh coaches then it’s time for you to hit up what is lovingly also just called Food Bowl.


Volkajo; Well, there are many. It is actually the overall experience seeing so many different approaches to the game. Party, competitive games, food,  community building. There are so many things you can focus on. I like to talk and interact with other coaches, and enjoy BB like I used to enjoy partying, so I love playing in France or Spain, but you can find things to enjoy everywhere. So far I have not had a tournament where on my way home I was thinking “well, this was a waste of time”.


Is there a tournament you’ve yet to go to and is now on top of your bucket list?


KFoged; I've got a few tournaments I'd really like to go to, Revabowl in Spain and Block on the Rock (Malta), but primarily I would like to get some new countries under my belt, so I have my eyes set on countries like: Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Finland.


McNaughton; I like to travel to a lot of tournaments so most are outside Scotland. Top of my list is the Garden Bowl, one of Denmark's biggest tournaments. I know people who have attended already and said it's a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Chaos Cup, America’s, premiere tournament and I would love an excuse to take my Bloodbowl across the pond and test myself against all the players that attend. 


Finally I'd love to make it to the French Team event, we all know how good the French are when it comes to blood bowl at the highest level so taking part in one of their team tournaments would be something really enjoyable and a good learning experience. 


Celt; I’ve always wanted to get to Waterbowl as it’s a big tournament on the calendar that’s been around for a long time and has loads of heritage. Alas it usually falls on my daughter’s birthday, so I fear I might be destined never to experience the hospitality of Leipziger. (TO) That said, now that I’ve moved back to Scotland I’m really looking forward to getting round the tournaments in our own bonny country.


To your mind what one key factor above all others is vital for a Tournament Organiser (TO) to consider to deliver a fantastic experience?


Volkajo; Do what YOU want and not what the players might want, that’s the way to make it unique. Ask veteran coaches for advice to avoid mistakes, but try doing your own thing. Also see what you can easily offer. What kind of venue do you have easy access to? Who could help you with things? Also, go small first and grow. Okay that was more than one. Sorry!


McNaughton; Atmosphere and inclusion. I don’t think I know any player who goes to an event for prizes. We go to have fun and meet our friends and new people. I’d rather go to a well run event with no prizes than a badly run one where I was guaranteed a prize.


KFoged; Anything not related to the actual Bloodbowl. Going to a Bloodbowl tournament (even more when travelling around for it) is just as much a social event as a gaming tournament for me. So I better remember the Cider Wall (Bilbali Teams Cup), the boules tournament between rounds (Lutece Bowl) and the incredible socialising in Luca and Alicante for the World Cups than any of the Bloodbowl I have been playing.


Borrowing Purplechest’s One World One Bloodbowl podcast sign-off; what one question have I not asked about tournaments that I should have asked you?


McNaughton; “Could we introduce new scenarios into tournaments?”

For example, a lot of tabletop systems offer a round one challenge, which is great if you’ve got that friend you see once a year going to the same tournament and want to face off. (Ed: Thrudball does this for a £5 donation to charity) At team tournaments instead of the swiss format perhaps the captains could face-off in a mini game of drafting their players one at a time for the other to counter to offer a different dynamic.


KFoged; “Why should people start going abroad for tournaments?”

I have in fact already answered this in the last question (more or less), but I have gotten so many great memories from my travels around the world playing this game and most of them have little to do with the game itself. So I cannot recommend this enough to all your readers and I’m always happy to suggest tournaments for people to go to!


Volkajo; “How can you be a nice opponent in tournaments?”

Try to find out who you have in front of you. Is your opponent loud or quiet? Do they partake in some drinking during the match or not? ‘Try hard’ or just here for fun? Try to adjust your approach and clear up  potential misunderstandings before they might occur. How do you deal with cocked dice, take-backs etc. It only takes a few seconds and gives both of you a much nicer experience and hopefully a new friend!


Thanks to our panel for what hopefully was an interesting read and has given you some food for thought (Food Bowl for one!) on how your tournament horizons might expand - where’s your next tournament now?!

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